Protest planned to save iconic gates

THE Mayor of Frinton last night appealed for transport secretary Geoff Hoon to personally intervene to save the town's famous railway gates.

Roddy Ashworth

THE Mayor of Frinton last night appealed for transport secretary Geoff Hoon to personally intervene to save the town's famous railway gates.

And Terry Allen warned that defiant residents would be out in protest if plans to shut the manual level crossing for the last time go ahead later this month.

Mr Allen said it was expected the railway gates - which are regarded as a hallowed symbol of Frinton - would stop being used on April 18.


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Network Rail is scheduled to replace them with automatic electronic gates as part of a multi-million pound upgrade of the Clacton branch line.

Residents, however, have fiercely objected to the prospect of losing the gates, which have become so iconic they are enshrined in the town's coat-of-arms.

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They also argue that because the current wooden gates are manned - they are opened and shut by an attendant - they are safer for elderly users and youngsters.

Mr Allen said the date of the forthcoming closure had been publicised at meetings and the “collective feeling” in the town was that residents would gather there.

“We will demonstrate because, believe me, the people of Frinton do not like being pushed around, and that is exactly what they are trying to do,” he said yesterday.

“We believe the new crossing will be far more dangerous. I still believe there is time to save the gates. I would appeal to Geoff Hoon to look at the situation personally and think about it. He has still not signed it off.

“Many of our concerns and grievances have not been addressed by Network Rail and we feel they are driving this through.

“Mr Hoon should stop worrying about the Sunday papers and instead look at this real issue which is going to affect real people. We are still defiant and we will be defiant to the very end.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said last night: “After considering various options and following wide-ranging consultation, Network Rail believes the proposed automated crossing is the best long-term solution for pedestrians, road users and rail passengers.

“The scheme to improve the level crossing at Frinton has been approved by the county council, the railway inspectorate and the Office of Rail Regulation, and is just awaiting final sign-off from the Secretary of State.

“The improvement work at Frinton crossing is due to start once the last train has passed through on April 17.”

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